Cynara cardunculus

Hardy perennial with edible leaf stems and flowers. It is a culinary delicacy in countries such as France and Italy, where the stems are blanched and dipped in olive oil. The leaves can be eaten in salads though are rather bitter. The flowers can also be eaten like globe artichokes, to which they are closely related. The buds are slightly smaller and fiddlier but have a milder flavour. The roots can be boiled like parsnips.

The plant contains cynarin which has aroused great interest for its medicinal use to improve liver and gall bladder function and treat related complaints. The plants also yield a yellow dye, the flowers are very attractive to bees, and the silver foliage makes this a dramatic plant for borders or vege gardens. As the leaves die down in late summer they also provide useful mulch and weed exclusion. Suited to a sunny spot in dry or moist soil. Drought hardy. Height to 1.5m. 9cm pot. Certified organic plant.

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